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Pregame Prep: Bonnies battle A-10's top defense


No. 5 St. Bona vs. No. 4 Rhode Island

Atlantic 10 Conference Quarterfinal.

2:30 p.m. in Pittsburgh

TV: NBC Sports Network

Records: Bona 20-11. URI 21-9.

The Set-Up: Rhode Island enters the A-10 quarterfinals on a roll, having won five straight to force its way onto the bubble for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. ESPN has Rhody out. CBS has Rhody in. The Rams can not afford a quarterfinal loss and might have to get to the final to assure themselves a bid. The Rams’ current win streak includes a 69-59 win over VCU and a 73-70 OT win over Davidson. Impressive. Rhode Island is sitting at 43 in the RPI. (Bona was 30 last year.)

The Matchup: Bona’s offense was on a roll in the pre-quarterfinal win over UMass. This is a tougher assignment. Rhode Island ranks No. 1 in the A-10 in points allowed and shooting percentage allowed. The Rams are No. 2 in the nation in three-point percentage allowed (29.4).

Top Rams: URI star E.C. Matthews averages 14.4 ppg. He was a third-team all-A10 pick. Forward Hassan Martin was a second-team pick and made the A-10 all-defense team. He averages 14 points and 7.1 rebounds. Jared Terrell averages 12.6 ppg.

First meeting: Rhode Island won, 71-59, at home on Jan. 28. Martin scored 20 points. Matt Mobley was held to 1 of 10 shooting and eight points.

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